I’m so excited to launch this brand-new strand of content: Reader stories to inspire your migration adventure! I’ve talked many times about my own experience of relocating to Australia, so now it’s YOUR turn! I’m searching for readers to share their real-life experiences. If you’d like to learn more about being featured, check out the Write for Us page here.
First up, Gemma Beaconsfield shares her experience of moving to Adelaide!
In this interview with Gemma about moving to Adelaide, you’ll learn:
- Why Gemma chose to move to Adelaide
- What living in Adelaide is really like
- Gemma’s tips on renting a home in Adelaide
- What to expect from the weather in Adelaide
- What wildlife experiences can you look forward to if you’re planning on moving to Adelaide, South Australia!
- And so much more!
Whether you’re planning on making the move to Adelaide, or you’re just interested in learning about how Gemma made the move across the world to South Australia from the UK, I know you’re going to love reading this! I know I find it so fascinating learning all about other people’s relocation experiences so I’m thrilled to share this. Let’s dive in and learn all about Gemma’s move to Adelaide…
Moving to Adelaide | Gemma’s story
Welcome Gemma! We can’t wait to learn all about your experience moving to South Australia. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your situation – who did you move to Adelaide with, and what was your experience of moving to Adelaide, Australia like?
I moved from London, UK to Adelaide, South Australia by myself in March 2020. Following a relationship breakdown I was at the point where I was at a complete reset and had to decide where to re-settle. Having wanted to spend more time in Australia for a number of years I decided that, with no responsibilities such as a mortgage, children or partner to consider it really was now or never!
The plan as I arrived in Australia in March 2020 was to treat it as a recce – I planned to hand out CVs, possibly do some interviews, get set up with Medicare and some Australian ID, etc. and would then move properly a couple of months later. COVID, however, had other ideas and when the Australian borders closed while I was onshore and my return flights were cancelled I had to decide whether to stay and hope for the best, or return to the UK with no idea when borders would open up again for me to complete my move.
My visa was a temporary visa valid for 4 years (4 months of which had already elapsed), and I needed to reside in Australia for at least 2 years before expiry to be eligible to apply for permanent residency. At that time the Australian government were giving no assurances that visas would be extended, either, so it felt like a really uncertain time. In the end, I emailed my resignation to my workplace in London, asked my family to support in boxing up and shipping my belongings and took a chance that things would work out in my favour.
It was a very stressful period but I am glad to say luck was on my side
What did you do for a living in your home country and what do you do now in Australia?
In London, I was working as a Team Manager in a not-for-profit mental health-supported accommodation service. Here in Australia, I am working as a team leader in a health and well-being service for people experiencing homelessness.
Overall, the roles are in a similar sector, although my first job in Australia was working as a Local Area Coordinator supporting NDIS participants, I was so grateful for the opportunity outside of my field to learn so many new skills and the array of services available over here.
Moving to Adelaide | Visas
What visa did you move to Adelaide on?
I came on a 489 visa. Since then I have been granted the 887 (permanent residency).
Did you use a migration agent? And if so, why did you decide to use one?
Yes – I used Katherine Van Greuning at GetMe2Oz.com. I used Katherine for both of my visa applications.
I had heard absolute horror stories about the visa process, and how strict officials are. Whether it is true or not I don’t know, but I heard that a small mistake could lead to the visa being declined and having to pay to submit the application again. I did take a look at the application process myself, but it just seemed so complicated I didn’t really know when to begin.
Despite being quite expensive, I was glad I decided to work with an agent in the end, as Katherine took all (or most!) of the stress out of the process. She guided me along the way, ensured everything was perfect before submission and both visas were approved without any follow-up questions and ahead of published processing timeframes so I believe it was money well spent.
Can you share your experience of getting your skills assessed?
From what I remember the process was fairly straightforward. I provided my visa agent with a letter from my employer confirming my job role, length of service and a copy of my job description, along with copies of my degree certificates and transcripts. My agent completed the application and I received a letter back advising how many years’ experience was being taken into account.
Did you take the English language test? If so, which test did you take and how did you find it? Do you have any tips for anyone who is going to be taking it?
Yes, I took the IELTS. It reminded me of sitting my GCSEs! With a wait between the speaking test and the other components, it took a full day – there were 4 different components – listening, reading, writing and speaking.
The first 3 were completed in silence, in a hall with dozens of others taking the test with examiners dotted around the room to keep an eye out. The speaking test was held the same day in a separate building. I found the speaking to be the most challenging – mainly because I was asked a question and given 5 minutes to keep speaking about the topic and I just couldn’t think of enough things to fill that much time – (the question was ‘talk about what you like to do on your own’ or words to that effect!). Just as well there was a question and answer section which boosted my score for that front.
I was given a tip by my agent which is the one I would share with anybody else completing the IELTS – study! Do not assume it will be easy just because English is your first language, particularly if you are aiming for maximum points, and some sections are quite lengthy, for example, the writing test involves answering a couple of questions at length, essay style.
There are practice tests and information to help test takers on the IELTS website, which I found really useful.
How did you find the visa process? How long did it take from when you decided to move until your visa was approved?
The visa process felt long, at times confusing, and frustrating, particularly when having to search for old pieces of information or evidence (such as every time I’ve left the UK in the last 10 years), and what felt like long waits for results (eg from police checks, health checks, English test, skills assessment, etc). Because of this, I was very grateful to have a visa agent – Katherine was very patient and answered all the questions I had and reassured me when I was becoming really anxious.
I decided I wanted to move in January 2019, engaged Katherine the same month and my visa was granted at the end of November, so it was 11 months all up. Most of that time was spent collecting all the required information, completing the skills assessment, English tests, etc. Once my application was actually submitted (in September), the medical, police check and visa grant all went through in around 9 weeks.
In June 2022, I worked with Katherine to submit my application for the 887 visa. This was fairly simple, as Katherine had my previous information on file so I just confirmed everything was correct, and submitted the evidence to meet the visa requirements – that I had lived in South Australia for at least 2 years and had been working full-time for at least 1 year. The permanent residency visa was granted in February 2023.
Moving to Adelaide | Reasons, reactions and getting settled
What made you want to move to Australia?
My sister and her family have lived in Australia for around 17/18 years so I had visited a few times before. I loved the natural beauty, the clean beaches, the warmer weather and outdoors lifestyle. I also believed that the quality life and cost of living would be more favourable, particularly with higher wages and lower housing costs, especially in relation to London and the southern counties where I had been living in the UK.
I had a feeling that if I did not at least try it, I would regret it in later life.
How did you decide where to move in Australia? What made you want to move to Adelaide, South Australia in particular?
I had fallen in love with Adelaide – particularly the southern beachside suburbs – when I had visited family so it was an easy decision on where to base myself when I moved, and having some family support was a huge draw as well.
Since living in Adelaide, I have had the chance to travel around Australia a little more, so I may consider elsewhere in the future but at the moment I am very happy living in Adelaide.
How did family and friends react when you told them you were moving to Adelaide, South Australia?
I was fortunate enough that my family were extremely supportive of the move to Adelaide.
I spoke to them about moving to Adelaide when I first started wondering whether to try the move and they were all encouraging. Sad, of course, that I would be living so far away but, as they have seen my sister move previously and have seen the life she now lives here with her family, they were all understanding of the reasons why I wanted to move and what a life in Australia and could possibly offer me.
I still miss family back in the UK – it has definitely been the hardest part about the move to Adelaide, particularly when the borders closed due to COVID and I was faced with the reality that I couldn’t get home in an emergency if I needed to. We were lucky that the family all came through the pandemic healthy and have since been able to visit each other, so I feel much more settled and happy.
How did it feel to be making the move on your own and how did you create a support network?
Whilst I made the move to Adelaide on my own, I did have some family support here – my sister and her husband and children live here so I was able to stay with them for a few weeks, until I found my first job and was able to move into a unit. Whilst I had family here, it did take a little while to build a support network of my own.
When I started my first job, I made a few fantastic friends there who I’ve stayed close to despite moving jobs and living quite far away. I met one of my closest friends (also a UK expat) through Facebook group meet ups – there are Poms in Adelaide / Poms in Oz / local suburb groups which have been useful for connecting in with others.
I also volunteer with a small local dog rescue and have met some amazing people through that.
Moving to Adelaide | Finding work
How did you go about finding jobs? Did you find a job before you moved or did you move without a job?
I began applying for jobs before leaving the UK and I primarily used Seek and Indeed, but did not have any responses. I had put in my application the dates I was expecting to be in Adelaide and a couple of weeks after landing I received an email from one of the employers asking if I was in Australia yet and offering an interview. I interviewed successfully and was given a start date in June, so I had about 7 weeks out of work upon arrival.
I found that employers were much more receptive after I arrived in Australia, and I was not having any luck with securing interviews when I was still in the UK. Once I was in Australia, I found it was much easier, and at the time of being offered my first job, I was actively in the recruitment process with 2 other employers. This may be a different experience if somebody is looking for work in a very specific field – when I first moved I was fully prepared to obtain any work available initially, knowing that I could then apply for the “right” job as and when the opportunity arose.
Do you have any tips about finding work for people who are moving to Australia?
To stay open-minded, think of everything as an opportunity to learn, network and meet new friends. And be prepared for a very different system to learn! For example, as I work for a not-for-profit organisation, we are eligible for ‘salary sacrificing’ in which a proportion of pay can be deducted before tax to be spent on a nominated expense (such as rent), reducing taxable income.
It also came as a surprise to learn that employees have to submit their own tax return each year as well!
Moving to Adelaide | Securing a rental
How easy was it to find a rental in Australia? Do you have any tips to help others find a rental?
The rental market moves very quickly here, and it only took about 2 weeks from starting looking for a rental to signing the lease – it was much quicker than I expected. This was for a small, 2 bed unit, though. Since then I have moved into larger homes and have found queues up the road to get into the viewings.
The rental application process was quite in-depth, and it took a little while to get all my references updated onto the rental profiles, such as tenant options. If I had to do it all over, I would probably try to set these profiles up in advance, so the application is streamlined once in a position to apply. There is so much to think about and organise once you first arrive that the last thing you want to do is start rifling through boxes for old evidence to upload.
Rentals are in high demand at the moment. I have moved twice more since then, to pet-friendly rentals. If you have pets I would recommend completing a “pet resume” to support your application. I now have a dog, called Ruby, and I completed a pet resume outlining the training courses she has completed, her health and vaccination status, lifestyle (for example, how often she is at daycare, routine for exercise and mental enrichment etc). I would also recommend being open-minded about the area, if possible – it is so quick and easy to get around that it really doesn’t take long to get back to my favourite beach, restaurant and shopping precinct even though I’m a couple of suburbs over.
Moving to Adelaide | Weather and wildlife
What is the weather like where you live? What things do new arrivals need to be aware of when it comes to the weather when moving to Adelaide?
The weather here in Adelaide definitely has distinct seasons! The summers are usually warm and dry, perfect for the beach! The winters, however, can be cool and very wet. One thing I was not expecting when I moved here was just how much it can rain – and when it rains it really buckets it down!
At the moment we are on the back of about 4 back-to-back rainy days with a few more to come. I would also suggest bringing the blankets and warm clothes with you as I find the houses are quite cool and do not retain the heat so I’m often bundled up under blankets through the winter evenings!
What amazing wildlife experiences have you had since moving to Adelaide?
One of my favourite things about living here is seeing wild kangaroos in one of the fields just a few minutes away from home. Kangaroos are one of my favourite animals so I just love seeing them around! I also had a trip to Kangaroo Island and it was beautiful having breakfast out on the deck and seeing wild kangaroos, wallabies and koalas just living life. It really is a dream come true. I have also enjoyed visiting some of the conservation parks here, and seeing the work going into protecting these beautiful creatures for the years to come.
Lots of people avoid Australia because they’re scared of spiders and snakes. Have you had any negative experiences with the wildlife here?
I was terrified of snakes and spiders before moving here but, luckily, I have not seen a snake yet – and I am told by the locals that they will generally not bother you if you do see them. I believe most accidents occur when people try to take matters into their own hands and try to catch or kill snakes, and get bitten as a result. I do see spiders about, but where I live now it is mostly daddy longlegs, so nothing too scary! I just try to make sure I don’t put my hands into dark spaces I can’t see into, particularly when gardening!
Probably the worst experience (if I can call it that) I’ve had with wildlife here is just how noisy the birds are in the morning (ha!). Definitely a lot more rowdy than the pigeons I’m used to.
Moving to Adelaide | The reality
What things do you wish you’d known before you started the process of moving to Adelaide?
- There will be moments of anxiety and doubt
- You will miss English food (whaaaaatttt??)
- Be prepared to put yourself out there to make friends
What are you loving about your new life in Australia?
I love the (usually) better weather, living so close to a gorgeous beach, trying new things (like learning to surf!) and a better standard of living. Whilst costs of living have increased, I have been lucky enough to have work which pays better than any job I had in the UK, so I have had the opportunity to reduce my hours down to 0.8 FTE, and the costs of rents (whilst rising) have so far remained lower than in the areas of the UK I was living in previously.
If a friend of yours was considering moving to Australia, what advice would you give them?
I would give them the same advice my brother-in-law gave me when I was thinking about it. Just give it a go – if it is not for you, you can always return to the UK but you may regret it if you don’t even try.
I found using the expat forums such as Poms in Oz to be really useful, both the website for when I was planning and had questions about what I needed to prepare, or what life is really like here and the local Poms Facebook groups when you arrive which will give you the information like where is the best place to go for British Fish and Chips.
What are you most looking forward to doing over the coming weeks/months/years?
Now my permanent residency visa has been granted I am looking forward to trying to buy my first home in Australia – after quite a few moves over the years I am definitely looking forward to staying in one place for a good few years, and to not have to worry about quarterly rental inspections!
I hope to continue to travel around this beautiful country, and a trip to Uluru is probably my first stop.
Next year I am also eligible for citizenship which I will definitely be applying for!
Thanks for sharing your experience of moving to Adelaide, Gemma!
Thanks so much, Gemma, for sharing your story about moving to Adelaide, South Australia.
If you’re keen to share your experience of relocating to Australia, make sure you check out the Write for Us page here! Published entries receive a $50AUD digital Mastercard.